Unlike “yes or no” questions, open-ended questions require more than just an affirmative or negative reply. They typically involve asking about the identity, quality, or quantity of a person, place, or thing.

The first step is to memorize the Portuguese “question words”, also known as interrogative pronouns and interrogative adverbs.

The most common are Quem?(Who?), Qual?(Which?), Quanto?(How much?), Porquê?(Why?), Quando?(When?), Onde?(Where?), Como?(How?), and Quê? (What?). Unless it comes before a noun, or at the end of a question, this last one often appears as “O que…”

In European Portuguese, you’ll also notice that question words are often followed by the words é que, as in “Como é que se sente hoje?” É que basically translates to “is it that”, as in, “How is it that you’re feeling today?” This may sound redundant in English, but it’s perfectly natural in Portuguese.

Let’s try it out in the examples below! Can you fill in the blanks?

O ____ é que acham?

What do you(pl.) think?

____ dia é hoje?

What day is today?

____ és?

Who are you?

____ disse isso?

Who said that?

____ queres?

Which (one) do you want?

____ custa?

How much does it cost?

____ é que assino?

Where do I sign?

____ é que se diz?

How do you say it?

____ é que vai pagar?

How are you going to pay?

____ é que comemos?

When do we eat?

____ é que tu estás triste?

Why are you sad?

Para ____ é este bolo?

Who is this cake for?

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